I realized today that I never properly introduced or explained Krems!
I live in Krems an der Donau, which is located in the Wachau Valley, right on the Danube River. It is mainly made up of vineyards, having of 2,243 hectares of vineyards in Krems alone. It is in Niederösterreich, which is Lower Austria. The population is around 25,000 people which yes, is about the same population as Wilfrid Laurier University. Many of the streets that make up Krems are pedestrian only, which mean they’re cobblestone and lined with small, independent shops.
Here is a better explanation of the wine culture in Krems: I can assure you, it’s amazing…
Krems is an hour train ride from Vienna, which makes travelling very convenient. Most of our trips (excluding Easter week,) have all been bus trips. The bus systems are really convenient to get to and we haven’t had too many problems thus far.
Coming from a big city like Toronto, it was difficult at first getting used to Krems. My first night here, I arrived at around 8pm at night with my dad from the Vienna International Airport. We got to the hotel and we asked the receptionist where she recommended for dinner. She look at us as if we were crazy! She said, “Krems is a small town and it’s a Thursday…there is maybe one or two restaurants open.” We ended up walking in the main town and I remember thinking to myself, “WHAT have I gotten myself into?!”
I think that was the first and last time I questioned Krems. It is a university and tourist town, and it is such a nice change from the hustle and bustle of a big city. Being able to bike everywhere, without the worry of an angry Toronto driver honking at you, not having to depend on the bus, subway, or driving is unbelievable. It makes you stop and appreciate everything around you.
Almost everything closes at 5pm, with only the grocery stores like Spaar, Billa, and Hofer, staying open late until 7:30pm. AND almost everything, with the exclusion of some restaurants, is closed on Sundays! This was such a huge culture shock for me. Usually, I get most of my errands done on Sunday, so the term “Lazy Sundays” is really embraced here! It was definitely something that took a while to get used to.
My university- IMC FH Krems has two campuses. Honestly, they have really long German names so we (maybe not we, just me) just refer to them as old and new. They’re both about a 10 minute walk away, which makes rolling out of bed for 8:30 am lectures that much better. My favourite campus is the old campus. It something out of a movie. The classes in the basement are old wine cellars, and they’re beautiful. My walk to campus is as well, just as beautiful. I love being able to walk through town, where everyone is out on patios having their morning espresso!
I’m in Business Administration and Export Oriented Management, which is the reason I have classes in both buildings. I take a variety of courses. It’s really interesting being put into a completely different learning environment. Nothing about Austrian schooling is like Canadian schooling at all.
First, they use a number system out of 4 for your final grade, 1 being the highest you can achieve. So, getting a 1 on something here is really scary at first, thinking you JUST passed, when realistically you did really well. Second, my shortest class in minimum 3 hours. Which at Laurier, is the longest class. The classes aren’t scheduled every week, so for some courses I have once every couple weeks, and some I have every day for a week, and then it’s finished. It’s a very different concept to understand and it took quuuuuuite some time to figure out. Third, you take breaks during class! I only have these in my 3 hour lectures at Laurier, but these consistently happen in all my classes, where people go for food or for a smoke.
A few weekends ago, my friends and I went to a wine tasting festival in Krems. It was about a 20 minute walk from my flat, and it was up in the vineyards. For 10 euros, you were offered unlimited wine tasting, so the wine connoisseur that I recently discovered I am, fully took advantage of this. There was about 15 of us and we walked to about four wineries and (professionally) tasted a majority of the wines being offered. It was such a fun afternoon! It’s amazing what you can find in your backyard…
Last weekend, a few of the Canadians and I biked to Durnstein, which is about 3 towns over. It is 7.5 km each way, and then we stopped in town to hike up a ruin. I did this during my first week here, but we took a bus. It is much nicer by bike! The weather was beautiful, and we were biking by the river, around the vineyards, and then through town! We hiked up the ruin and then had a picnic lunch overlooking the water. This is definitely something I never pictured myself doing, and loving. It is a trip I hope to make again. There are so many little things to do that are just in my backyard, and I hope I get to experience so much more before I leave.
The picture collage is the same trip, two different seasons!
And that’s Krems for ya! I’m happy I get to spend a few more months here and call this place home. It really is a beautiful, quaint town, and I really would have never discovered it if it wasn’t for my exchange!
Until my next adventure,